A Narrative Review of Literature Examining Studies Researching the Impact of Law on Health and Economic Outcomes
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A Narrative Review of Literature Examining Studies Researching the Impact of Law on Health and Economic Outcomes

Public Access Version Available on: January 01, 2025, 12:00 AM
Please check back on the date listed above.
  • English

  • Details:

    • Alternative Title:
      J Public Health Manag Pract
    • Description:

      Public health policy can play an important role in improving public health outcomes. Accordingly, there has been an increasing emphasis by policy makers on identifying and implementing evidence-informed public health policy interventions.

      Program or Policy:

      Growth and refinement of the field of research assessing the impact of legal interventions on health outcomes, known as legal epidemiology, prompted this review of studies on the relationship between laws and health or economic outcomes.


      Authors systematically searched 8 major literature databases for all English-language journal articles that assessed the effect of a law on health and economic outcomes published between January 1, 2009, and September 18, 2019. This search generated 12,570 unique articles 177 of which met inclusion criteria. The team conducting the systematic review was a multidisciplinary team that included health economists and public health policy researchers, as well as public health lawyers with expertise in legal epidemiological research methods. The authors identified and assessed the types of methods used to measure the laws’ health impact.


      In this review the authors examine how legal epidemiological research methods have been described in the literature as well as trends among the studies. Overall, three major themes emerged from this study: (1) limited variability in the sources of the health data across the studies, (2) limited differences in the methodological approaches used to connect law to health outcomes, and (3) lack of transparency surrounding the source and quality of the legal data relied upon.


      Through highlighting public health law research methodologies, this systematic review may inform researchers, practitioners, and lawmakers on how to better examine and understand the impacts of legal interventions on health and economic outcomes. Findings may serve as a source of suggested practices in conducting legal epidemiological outcomes research and identifying conceptual and method-related gaps in the literature.

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